Fans are recovering from
three losing seasons after the departure of coach Bobby Petrino,
now at Arkansas. Steve Kragthorpe,
his successor, had a quick trigger management style, missing more talent from
the team than he was able to recruit, setting the program back several years.
Former Florida defensive
coordinator Charlie Strong heads the reconstruction project.
He’s focused on restoring confidence, building strength and conditioning,
learning to win, and recruiting better talent. His potential 2011 recruiting
class includes more four and five-star recruits than U of L has ever attracted.
four players to watch - two on defense and two on offense - and why they
are ones Oregon State fans should keep their eyes on.
backs Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson
(pictured left), averaging 7.7 and 5.2 yards per carry. Powell is the
starter and the player who gets the ball in the red zone, having scored
Anderson, the Big
East freshman of the year two seasons ago, has yet to see the end zone.
He is, however, among the nation’s top kickoff return men, averaging
50 yards per return.
- Through the first two
games, Powell and Anderson have combined to run for 344 yards and three scores
and have also caught six passes for 37 yards. Powell is the team's leading
rusher with 245 yards and three scores, while Anderson has registered 99 yards.
The two are averaging a healthy 6.7 yards a carry this season.
- Powell is showing that
he is gonna be a special performer for the Cardinals, leading the team with
245 yards rushing, three touchdowns and a 7.7 rushing average. Through the
fi rst two contests, Powell is averaging 122.5 yards a game, which ranks 14th
in the country and second in the BIG EAST Conference.
- Over the last 14 games
played, tight end Cameron Graham
has caught 33 passes for 405 yards and two scores. He has caught a pass in
every game but two in his collegiate career and has registered three or more
receptions in eight games
cornerback Johnny Patrick (picture right) is the fastest
and hardest hitting defensive player, having recorded 10 solo tackles
in the first two games.
A nice surprise has
been senior defensive end Rodney Gnat who had four sacks
in last week’s game, bringing his four year total to seven
- Patrick has 31 career
starts, the most on the team, including 15 straight.
- The Cardinals have done
a good job on third down this season of getting off the field. Louisville
is allowing the opposition to convert on just 30 percent of their chances
- In the 23-13 win over
Eastern Kentucky, Rodney “Big Pretty” Gnat was
dominant on Saturday, recording 4.5 sacks, forced a fumble and recovered one.
It was the most sacks by a Cardinal since Elvis
Dumervil had six in a win over Kentucky in 2005. Gnat is now
the BIG EAST’s leader in sacks with 4.5 and also ranks fourth nationally
in that category.
are the strengths of the Louisville offense? What are its weaknesses?
STRENGTH OF THE
OFFENSE: The running game, with Powell and Anderson, is the primary
threat in offensive coordinator Mike Sanford’s spread
offense, although less than impressive in managing only 408 yards rushing in
the first two games.
Wide receiver Doug Beaumont, a senior who was the state’s No. 1 player in high school,
caught his first touchdown pass in four seasons last week. Now that he’s
ended the drought, Beaumont may be ready to redeem himself under a new coach
WEAKNESS OF THE
OFFENSE : Quarterback Adam Froman, a junior college
transfer from Santa Rosa, Calif., is operating his third different offensive
in as many years. While he has shown an ability to run, his scrambling abilities
He appears to be challenged
in checking off possible receivers, often settling for his first choice, having
thrown two interceptions (one costing Louisville six points) during the first
two games. None of his receivers had caught a touchdown pass coming into the
- The Cardinals’
offense was like Jeckyl and Hyde in the win over Eastern Kentucky. Louisville
totaled 23 points, 290 yards of total offense, 100 yards rushing and 190 yards
through the air in taking a 23-0 lead into the intermission. However, the
second half was a totally different outcome, as Louisville was held without
a point. Louisville recorded just 98 yards of total offense and threw an interception
for a touchdown. The Cardinals recorded just 29 yards through the air and
69 yards on the ground.
- The Cardinals are 0-3
in non-conference games on the road when they score 14 or fewer points in
a game (lost 30-14 to Utah in 2009; 34-10
to Illinois in 2001 and 32-0 at Florida
State in 2000).
- Junior Victor
Anderson has also developed an impressive reputation during his 22-game
Louisville career as an expert at holding onto the football. The junior hasn’t
lost a fumble in 291 career rushing attempts and 34 career receptions for
a total of 325 career touches.
are the strengths of the Louisville defense? What are its weaknesses?
STRENGTH OF THE
DEFENSE: If there is a strength, it is a new outlook under a coach
who had one of the best defenses in the nation while at Florida.
WEAKNESS OF THE
DEFENSE . Louisville lost five starters on the defensive line, which
is undersized and depending on speed to make up the difference. Good luck on
that one. One hope is that Jordan Campbell, a transfer linebacker
from USC, will finally be cleared to play for the Oregon State encounter.
Louisville’s kicking game has improved by leaps and bounds over last season,
which didn’t take much. Chris Philpott has nailed all three of his field
goal attempts, and 69.7 yards per kickoff with four touchbacks. Punter Josh
Bleser is averaging 40.2 yards per kick.
- The Cardinals returned
six starters from last year's defense.
- Last week Louisville
recorded nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss. The nine sacks for the Cardinals
were one shy of tying the school mark of 10 set in 2000 against Grambling
and North Carolina in 1996.
- Junior placekicker Chris
Philpott has connected on eight straight field goals, including a
pair of 44-yarders. He tied his career-long with a 44-yard field goal in the
loss to Kentucky on Sept. 4. On kickoffs, he blasted two into the endzone
into this game where would you rank your team on a scale of 1-10 (with 10
being the team playing at peak performance) and why?
If the Louisville team that
won a BCS Orange Bowl in 2007 is a 10, the current version would be a 2 or 3
on the ranking scale.
U of L football has been
painful and boring to watch, with a mediocre quarterback and a team in the infancy
stages of learning a new offensive system. Far less impressive at this stage
than the one that managed a 4-8 won-lost record last season.
- Due to injuries Louisville
has already lost four players for the entire season.
- The Cardinals have already
played seven true freshman.
- Louisville’s magic
number is 24. Since the 2003 season, the Cardinals are 52-12 when scoring
24+ points. When scoring fewer than 24 points, Louisville is only 6-18.
No predictions here. Just
looking for growth.
- The Cardinals have 27
seniors on its roster - tied for the second most in the nation.
- Louisville is 11-7 on
the road against non-conference foes in the last 10 years, but has dropped
its last two matchups (30-14 at Utah last season and 31-27 against Kentucky).
- U of L has already turned
the ball over five times in two games, but has forced just two turnovers.
Louisville is tied for 101st nationally in turnover margin.
thanks to Charlie for taking the time out of his busy day to answer the
questions. Please head over to UofLCardGame.com
for all things Louisville.